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Cleric: US orchestrating trial

An Indonesian Muslim preacher accused the US on Thursday of orchestrating a treason against him, as one of the winesses testified that  Abu Bkar Bashir headed the

Last Modified: 26 Jun 2003 06:20 GMT

An Indonesian Muslim preacher accused the US on Thursday of orchestrating a treason against him, as one of the winesses testified that  Abu Bkar Bashir headed the Jamaa Islamia (JI) organization accused of "terror" attacks.

Bashir (L): US orchestrating trial

Bashir said in an interview before the trial session that the US was trying to prevent the establishment of Islamic law.

 

"This is indeed a conspiracy. This is an orchestrated project
aimed at stopping (the struggle to uphold) Islamic law, of which
America is afraid,".

 

Indonesian prosecutors have charged Bashir with committing treason by leading JI, and involvement in incidents ranging from a plot to kill President Megawati Sukarnoputri when she was vice president to bombings of churches in 2000.

   

Bashir has denied the existence of the network, as well as involvement in any bombings, including those on the resort island of Bali last October that killed 202 people.

 

Indonesia has blamed JI for the Bali attacks, but Bashir has not been named a suspect.


On Thursday the court listened to a key witness who confirmed that Bashir was in fact the head of JI. 


Faiz bin Abu Bakar Bafana a Malaysian deatained in Singapore on suspicion of involvement in terror activities, told prosecutors in Jakarta via a vide-oconference link that he was upset to see Bashir on trial.

   

Asked if anyone replaced a previous head of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) who died in the late 1990s, Faiz said: "Yes, Abu Bakar Bashir."

   

Seated in a room at the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs, Faiz admitted he was a member of JI.

 

Faiz said he had visited the city of Solo in Central Java "to seek the approval of Ustad (teacher) Abu Bakar Bashir to attack churches in Indonesia."

  

"He gave his blessing," Faiz  testified.

 

Appointment authorised

  

Faiz said he again visited Solo to seek the approval on the appointment of Mukhlas to replace Hambali as head of the group’s operations wing. He said Bashir personally approved the appointment and issued a letter authorising it.

  

Sukarnoputri (C): JI
'targetted' her

He also said the cleric ordered an attempt to assassinate Megawati Sukarnoputri before she became President.

 

Faiz is one of dozens of suspected JI members detained by Singapore in the past 18 months in a crackdown on the group.

 

Singapore has described him as one of the leaders of JI cells in Malaysia, and said he visited Afghanistan in 1999 to meet members of the al Qaeda network.

 

Bashir's lawyers in Jakarta earlier walked out of the trial in protest at the videoconference link, arguing foreign witnesses could only give evidence on Indonesian soil.

 

 

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